Boycott threatens Puppy Classic

The sustainability of greyhound racing in NSW is at risk with a 99-year inter-code agreement signed before the privatisation of the TAB in 1998 at the core of the code's financial crisis. Terms surrounding the distribution of TAB revenue have locked greyhound racing's return to 13 per cent despite returning more than 21 per cent of turnover in recent times. Each percentage point represents more than $1 million in net revenue to owners and trainers.

A planned boycott of nominations for TAB meetings severely affected last night's Wentworth Park meeting with poor quality fields supplementing two heats of the group 3 Summer Cup. Meetings at Bulli (on Monday) and Tuesday's Goulburn and Gosford meetings have already been abandoned due to a lack of numbers. The boycott is planned to continue until December 15, with Thursday's running of the annual $75,000-to-the-winner Puppy Classic at Dapto at risk. Greyhound Racing NSW has recognised the sport is not viable in its current format and supports the need to reform the inter-code agreement. Significant resources have been invested to facilitate change but the agreement requires all parties to agree to an amendment - certainly an illogical outcome. An independent report by Alan Cameron recommended to the then Labor government that in the absence of the codes reaching agreement that the government should intervene and legislate such an outcome. The boycott has divided participants and seen greyhounds of dubious quality drawn to contest events for "city prizemoney".

Long term, greyhound racing will face rationalisation unless there is a rethink. The 2011-12 racing season will result in the sport losing $3.5 million in the support of TAB turnover and the losses are unsustainable without the inter-code agreement being reworked. Tracks will otherwise close and the fabric of greyhound racing, the working man's sport, will be lost.

This story Boycott threatens Puppy Classic first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.